Becoming a parent
(For Ball and Schiavie)
As little kids we believed that we had all the time in the world, because back then all we knew was play, eat and sleep. We eventually had to go to kindergarten, and learning how to read and write seemed the most difficult thing in the world. When we were told to do something we disliked, such as drinking medicine or having a vaccination, we felt as though the universe were in conspiracy against us. When we had to wait for something, like opening Christmas or birthday presents, we could not help but feel so superbly impatient that days, even hours, felt like infinity. When our parents could not give us all that we wanted, we easily wished to have the life of another, not realizing that everyone on the planet has their own sentiments to deal with.
But when we become a parent, everything is completely different. In moments of contemplation, we realize how the big things we thought were bigger than the cosmos as a child become even bigger, even perplexing, when we are a parent. Life is not always easy, and as a parent, we do not find it getting any easier. It means thinking of our kids (as well as our spouse) more than ourselves, because our lives are intertwined. It means sacrifices need to be made and priorities need to be set, even losing some of what we once believed important to us.
Most of us are overjoyed when we find out that we are expecting a baby. While some may have theirs accidentally, there is always that rejuvenating thought that we have a living being inside of us. The sound of a heartbeat will always seem surreal, and an ultrasound photo is sheer ecstasy. The sound of a baby’s first cry becomes our favorite music, perhaps the best melody we have ever heard. Ironically, it also becomes our nightmare because it means another sleepless night.
We often look at our children and see a piece of ourselves in them. Now we are seeing through our parents. A parent and a child will never fully agree on many things because the latter has not been in the shoes of the former. When one becomes a parent, it all makes the difference, and the once-child then understands why rules were set, why not everything is given, and why some choices were made no matter how questionable they appeared to be.
Of course, that is not the same case with everyone else because some children will claim that they have bad parents. I believe there are no bad parents, just that at one point, some fathers and mothers make bad choices that they regret but can no longer take back; and despite lifetime efforts of trying to compensate for their wrong decisions, acceptance does not happen overnight because the end point is but the life of the child they created.
Sooner than later, our children will grow into teenagers and then young adults. They will feel empowered and entitled to make their own choices, with or without our consent. They will seek their freedom, believing that they can manage on their own, that with a stable job or with the love of their life, anything or everything is possible. They will feel invincible because of their youth, vigor, and idealism, and we as parents may sometimes feel neglected, as if we were wallflowers in our own children’s lives. But even though they hurt us—unintentionally—we will never cease to catch them when they stumble, and to prop them up when they lose their wings.
We should treasure every moment with our children because they will never go back to that particular stage that we missed out on. Youth is ephemeral, but time well-spent is encompassing. We always feel a sense of guilt to have to tell our children to wait when they want to show us something, or when they ask that we come with them for whatever reason. And the time will come when they will go out on their own, come home late, spend more time with their peers, and even move out when they feel like doing so. Therefore, whenever we have the chance, when work permits (because we have to work to make a living), we have to spend time with our kids because those moments will make or break them somehow. A parent’s presence will always be a child’s feeling of joy and pride, especially in instances when they feel they are given importance.
Children grow up; they will graduate from school, find a job, marry their other half, and eventually have their own family. That thought comes to every parent’s mind, and somehow it feels quite stressful and lonely to think that the infant you are holding now or the toddler who hugs and kisses you all the time will grow up and can do things on their own without you. We cannot avoid worrying about what will happen to them with us not being there all the time, and whether they are living the life we have always wanted for them, or at least one that they want for themselves. Because parents will always want what is best for their children even though it may not always be what a child feels is right.
Parenthood is a selective blessing and a forever obligation. It is true that fatherhood or motherhood is a lifelong career where quitting is never an option. We appreciate our children as much as we appreciate our parents because the gift of life that our parents have given us is what now allows us to experience all of what God has created.
Even if given the chance, I will not change the time when I became a mother, as young as I was then. The timing was right because motherhood allowed me to mature and to think of another person more than myself.
There are no regrets in being a parent, only moments when we wish we could have had a longer time with our children. Parenthood makes us the best version of ourselves, because we learn that from here onward, we are living for another human being.
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Maria Solita Zaldivar-Guzman, 27, describes herself as “a happy wife and mother.”
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